Musings On The Relevance of the Rosary For the Souls
For Catholics, the month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary while November is devoted for the departed souls in purgatory. November is an important period to us because the Church dedicates this month to prayer for those who have gone before us, causing us to take a break from our daily norm. We are reminded to reflect on and pray for our departed loved ones, but also understand the reality of the Communion of Saints which forms part of our Catholic faith. What is the relevance of the Holy Rosary for the souls in Purgatory? Basically, it is our duty to offer prayers for the departed souls to call on God’s blessings on their behalf and one of the prayers that could provide relief for their sufferings is the Holy Rosary.
First things first, what is purgatory? For those who are still not aware/familiar of it, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It is noted that said “final purification of the elect is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031). As defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory in Latin is “purgare” which means to make clean, to purify in line with the Church teaching. Purgatory is a state or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace (those who have asked forgiveness), but have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions. This pertains to the Church’ belief that “nothing unclean shall enter heaven.” The existence of Purgatory is one of the dogmas of our faith, and praying for the dead/remembering them with hope and trust is one of the great benefits/consolations of the Catholic tradition. And this is one of the notions where we Catholics differ from other religions’ view that those who are still on earth can no longer help, do anything or pray for those who have departed because they’re already dead.
Why do we need to pray for the souls in purgatory? If you have undergone catechism or any religion/theology classes, you may have encountered the subject matter on the various states of the Church. But in today’s world, I’m not sure if most Catholics are aware of said description because we don’t learn them by merely going to Church on Sundays, we seldom hear these things from the pulpit. Nevertheless, the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the “three states of the Church, as follows: … 1. Church militant or the Church on earth – God’s disciples who are pilgrims on earth 2. Church suffering – the souls in purgatory who are being purified, and 3. Church triumphant – the Saints in Heaven, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is’” (CCC 954). Note that the Church suffering need help from the Church militant (particularly those who are living in the presence of God) specifically to offer prayers for them because the departed souls can no longer pray for their sake. Whereas, the Saints don’t need prayers anymore from us because they have reached fulfillment of peace and love (they have practiced the greatest commandment to love God and neighbor) and they are part of God’s Kingdom in heaven already. However, the Saints can intercede in our behalf, and so we can ask them to pray for us, for our intentions.
There are so many ways on how we can extend help (e.g. Holy Masses and prayers) to the souls in purgatory to alleviate their sufferings and facilitate their quick release from Purgatory and be lifted up to Heaven. As mentioned earlier, the recitation of the Holy Rosary is one of the effective prayers that is being encouraged by the Church and by no less than the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. Based on accounts, the Blessed Mother revealed to St. Dominic her fifteen (15) promises to all Christians who faithfully recite the Holy Rosary, one of which pertains to the souls in purgatory, which states: “I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary”. With God’s blessings, our Blessed Mother will intercede for the souls’ release from Purgatory, particularly those devoted to her. In the same manner, the Blessed Mother also promised that she shall obtain all we ask of her by praying the Holy Rosary. Thus, if we pray the Holy Rosary unceasingly and devotedly for our departed loved ones, our prayers may be granted by God, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. Because of our prayers, the souls may be released and saved from further sufferings in Purgatory. This is how important the Holy Rosary is for the souls in purgatory.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to help our departed loved ones who are still in the state of purgatory? One of the messages of Our Lady of Fatima is for us to offer prayers and sufferings, to make reparation of sins and the sins of others, both living and the dead, so that no soul shall be lost. The Holy Rosary is one perfect prayer and a complete one to save souls as it encompasses the life of our Lord Jesus, His joys, sorrows, light and the glory moments with His Beloved Mother. Reciting and repeating the Hail Mary all over again during the entire Holy Rosary prayer is like inviting our Lady to pray with us and to help us in our needs. As they say, whenever we pray the Hail Mary faithfully, we’re like offering a rose to her. With the 5 decades of a particular Mystery of the Holy Rosary we pray for the day, we’re like giving the Blessed Mother 50 pieces of roses each day. It is believed that eventually these roses are offered/presented to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. How much more if we recite the 4 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, that would be 200 roses being offered to the Blessed Mother (which eventually goes to our Lord God) each day! And this gives more weight to our prayers. With Jesus being so merciful and compassionate, there’s no way He’ll deny whatever our Lady, His Mother, asks from Him. St. Pio is one of the saints who prayed 60 rosaries every day with the belief that “The holy souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful, which can gain indulgences for them”. He encouraged everyone to pray unceasingly this powerful prayer, so as to empty Purgatory. Similarly, our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bridget telling her: “I am the Mother of all the souls in purgatory, and I am Mother of Mercy to these my children who are in the greatest need of my assistance, since in their torments they cannot help themselves”. One living advocate of the Holy Rosary who is called “The Purgatory Lady”, Susan Tassone, stated that “When we pray the Rosary for the holy souls, we gain fresh intercessors and also increase God’s glory. God has given us the awesome power and the privilege of assisting souls on their journey to paradise.”
Pope Francis, in his homily on All Souls Day, stated that we should trust and hope in our Lord Jesus, our Redeemer that lives. He further mentioned that the living God is our “strength that gives us hope, a free gift from God that draws us towards life, towards eternal joy”. But we have to ask the Lord for this gift of Christian hope. The Holy Father mentioned about St. Paul’s message that “Hope does not disappoint”, and he further said that “Hope is an anchor that we have on the other side”.
In view of the foregoing, offering the Holy Rosary prayer for the souls, particularly this month of November, would be of great help to our departed brothers and sisters, especially those who are in dire need and those who have no one to pray for them. Note that it only takes some few minutes to help our departed loved ones. Who knows the favors we give to them might be returned to us in three-folds once they become saints in Heaven!
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
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